Underwater search turns up valuable antiques, guns - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Underwater search turns up valuable antiques, guns

Divers pull stolen antiques from lake near the Pearl River in Washington Parish Divers pull stolen antiques from lake near the Pearl River in Washington Parish

Bogalusa, La. — An unusual search by authorities on the North Shore resulted in an equally unusual discovery Friday.

A dive team from the Washington Parish Sheriff's Office found hundreds of thousands of dollars of stolen items in a lake and creek not far from the Pearl River near Bogalusa.

Some of the antiques pulled from the lake during the four-hour search of the murky lake had been damaged, some not.

Captain Tommie Sorrell of the Washington Parish Sheriff's Office was on the scene. She said the divers could not see under the water, so they found the items by touch.

"I know that we pulled the vase from the water that the homeowner valued at $45,000. So I would say we probably pulled like porcelain and glassware, vases, collectibles, probably anywhere from two, $250,000 dollars of collectibles out of the water today," she said.

It is a recovery that is part of a twisted case that began in neighboring Mississippi, and involves authorities in three jurisdictions.

Major Donnie Saucier of the Pearl County Sheriff's Office said a vacation home owned by a well-off Jefferson Parish family was burglarized in April 2012 and the owners said that an estimated $1 million in antiques, artwork, guns and other items had been taken.

He said recently the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office gave them information that led to a search of a home and storage units in Pearl River County last Saturday. That search turned up $400,000 worth of stolen items, and two people were arrested who resided in that county.

After the arrests, information was given to authorities that led to the subsequent searches in the Washington Parish waterways.

"Some information had been received that some residents of Pearl River County had come to our jurisdiction here in Washington Parish and disposed of about a quarter-million dollars worth of valuables…Other subjects that have been named as being involved got scared, it seems, and tried to get rid of the items," stated Capt. Sorrell.

After searching the lake, the divers headed to a nearby creek and quickly recovered about a dozen weapons from the water.

Authorities said, once they found the antiques at the first location, they were pretty confident that the information that they had received about the guns being in the creek was solid.

Though pleased with their success in recovering the items, Washington Parish authorities admitted their divers have never been called upon for such a search. "This is pretty unique," said Capt. Sorrell.

Pearl County, Miss. investigators believe the suspects may be part of a group that could be responsible for numerous burglaries and auto thefts.

The Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office had no comment on this case.

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